Archives for posts with tag: children

moms car

For the past year, my daughter and I have been carpooling to work every day. We work a short distance from each other, and until she could figure out the means to buy her own car, this was our only option.

It worked out well, with the exception of our schedules. I work from 9:00 – 4:30. She has two radio shows; one from Noon – 2:00 and another from 4:00 – 6:00. Our usual daily routine was, she accompanied me to work, and sat reading at a local coffee shop until 11:30 or so, and then she’d take the keys and head to her job. At 3:30, we would meet at my office, and I would drive her to the station for her 4:00 show, and then return to my office for the last 45 minutes of my day.

That 3:30 shuffle sucks. The lot I park in for my job is 2 blocks away from my office, which may sound short, but in heat, rain or snow, that walk turns into a tiresome trek. And then, when I’m done at 4:30, I had the pleasure of waiting 1 1/2 hours for daughter to be off work. Most times I would grocery shop, but other times, when money was low, it was harder and harder to find creative ways to pass that time.

A favorite of mine was to spend a half an hour at our local animal shelter petting cats and kittens. Or sometimes I would just walk around the mall and “window” shop. For the most part that hour and a half would go by fast.

An additional burn? Sometimes our boss would let us out early.. like at 2:30 if there was little work to do. Then I’d be stuck in town for hours and hours when I could’ve been home with me feet up in front of Food Network. It also was not convenient for meals. We would not get home until 6:30 or so, and the thought of starting chicken piccata at that late time was a tiresome thought.

For a year I did this. My husband would pitch in when it worked for his schedule, but his schedule is ever changing, whereas ours was set, so most times it was me.

The commute itself would be great. We would usually spend the time talking. Sometimes we played music, but the commute was typically spent discussing a variety of things; upcoming vacations, plans for work; and it was really nice.

It all ended this week. Our children recently came into a small sum of money through the passing of a relative, and my daughter knew…this was the opportunity to buy her own car. She test drove quite a few, but in the end we decided to buy the same make and model as my car, which she was very used to driving.

I’m so happy for her. What a sense of independence this must give her. I remember when I owned my first car…you felt the world could be yours. You could go anywhere. But I’m also happy for me. While I really miss driving with her, it’s really nice to be able to just come home after work.

I’ll can always pet kittens on Saturdays…

Advertisements

Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 11.07.15 AM

As a child, were you ever left behind somewhere? Unfortunately, my oldest daughter was.

When she was in the 1st grade, I would drive from my office every afternoon and meet her across the street from her school. I’d park where all the other neighborhood moms parked, wait for the bell, stand on the corner until I spotted her, where I would then usher her into the car, and we’d go back to my office where she would sit quietly and color.

That was our routine.

Except for one very terrifying day.

On this day, about 2 miles from the road to her school, I got stuck in traffic. I groaned, as one usually does when your travels come to a grinding halt. So I sat, and waited. But this traffic? It wasn’t moving.

I nervously began to glance at the clock. The bell was going to ring in 20 minutes. Surely I’d be out of this by then, right? Every minute that ticked by added to my panic. 15 minutes left and I was nowhere close. I’d only moved about 50 yards.

You have to understand something. This was 2001. I had no cell phone. There was no calling the school or texting a friend. There was no where to stop and call, because the road I was on was nothing but woods on either side. There was no shoulder I could ride on. And even worse, there was no other way to get to the school. I was stuck.

10 minutes left until the bell. I sat there wondering why my Mercury Sable wagon couldn’t just rise up in the air and fly over all these cars that were keeping me from picking up my child. Why hadn’t anyone invented that yet?

By the time the bell was ringing and my small, 6 year old daughter was being dismissed from school, I was about 20 yards from the turn off to her school, where I then had to drive a few miles through a residential neighborhood. I cannot describe to you my level of impatience and hysteria as I inched along towards the intersection.

I finally got to the intersection, made my turn and hit the accelerator to try and get to my daughter before all the children thinned out and she realized she was alone.

And then the old lady turned out of her driveway. And proceeded to travel at the very safe speed of 20 mph.

I just about blew a gasket. I sat behind the wheel, unable to safely pass her and just screamed. The traffic was bad enough, but this new obstacle in my path was life giving me a big, huge wedgie.

By the time I got to the school, my little blonde baby was standing on the corner, completely alone, with the exception of a very kind crossing guard who waited with her. All the kids were gone, all the moms were gone. And this kind woman stayed behind in the hot sun to see that my girl was safe.

I cried when I reached her. I was so worried about what might be going through her mind – confused and in doubt as to why our routine had suddenly changed. Wondering, “Where is Mommy?”

I profusely thanked the crossing guard, explaining about the traffic jam as I picked up my girl and held her close. I was exhausted, but grateful that although life put me through the wringer that afternoon, some other force of nature sent my daughter a protector.

I had a cell phone by the end of the month. I also had a talk with my daughter, explaining to not worry if this ever happens again. Mommy is always coming.

Always.

RAdio

This morning when I was out walking, Todd Rundgren’s “I Saw The Light” came on my iPod. This song has a very special meaning to me – you see, it was the very first song that my first-born daughter ever heard.

It was August of 1995, and we were in the car driving her home from the hospital. “I Saw The Light” came on the radio. I have always liked that song, so I stopped my husband from changing the channel, and sang along. When it was over, I turned to him and said, “That was Sam’s first song. That’s her song.”

Now before I go on with this story, you need a little bit of background information. My husband is a musicaholic – it’s his passion. His true love. Have you ever asked the question of whether you would rather be blind or deaf? I always sided with deafness, because I would need to see my girls grow up..to see them graduate, walk down the aisle, have kids of their own.

Hubby? He would opt for blindness because he couldn’t imagine not being able to listen to music. I mean I love Springsteeen, but I’d rather be able to see than hear Rosalita.

But music goes a lot deeper with my husband, because it’s been a part of his life for so long. When he was young, he decided to get into radio. He went to a broadcasting school in New York City, and got a job working for WNEW, who had both AM and FM stations. While the AM station was news, sports and tunes from the 30’s & 40’s, the FM station was all rock. Classic rock – and a big wheel in the New York radio market.

He wasn’t on the air, because he said his tape that he made at broadcasting school sucked. But he worked with a popular DJ as an intern, then in the newsroom, and then a remote producer. However that didn’t mean he was tied to a dark studio. There were concerts and lots of them. And when you worked at the top rock radio station in a town like New York? You get to see EVERYONE.

He would go to concerts to hand out promotional items to fans, and then help backstage with live interviews. Can you imagine that? BACKSTAGE at Madison Square Garden, Giant’s Stadium or the Brendan Byrne Arena (now the Izod Center) for every show imaginable. He has a collection of backstage passes that would blow your mind.

A very young Hubby, on the far left in the yellow tee – and yes, that’s Pete Townshend. Fun Fact – he still has that exact T-Shirt.

And he’s seen everyone. I can’t name them all, but if it’s an artist or band that had any musical cred in the 70’s, 80’s and early 90’s – he’s seen them. He’s got a pretty massive collection of ticket stubs too. He always tells me if I wrote about his musical exploitations rather than ramble on about my goofy life, I’d have a million followers.

But even after his time at WNEW ended, he’s managed to stay involved in music. Right now he works at two entertainment venues where he still gets to be behind the scenes, although it’s on a much smaller scale. So far this year he’s worked the Snoop Dogg concert and helped Dwight Yoakam with his meet & greet. And let’s not forget, it was through this job that I got to meet Springsteen, where I got a kiss on the cheek from the Boss himself, followed by backstage passes to his concert that very same night.

It was one of the best nights of my life, and he did shit like that a few times a week.

He’s also managed to turn our youngest daughter onto all sorts of classic rock bands. She loves ELO, The Beatles and Chicago. When he does dishes or cleans the house, the iTunes goes on, and the songs blast out…everything from Supertramp to Sinatra, from Manilow to Manhattan Transfer – his tastes are beyond eclectic – they are scattered wider than the universe.

Yeah, it’s safe to say he lives music.

And sports – but that’s another blog post.

So when I turned to him in the summer of 1995 and said, “That was Sam’s first song. That’s her song” maybe now you can understand why he immediately began a frantic channel search to find a song he could embrace. Because his first daughter’s first song was way too important to him, and fate had chosen Todd Rundgren.

He claims it’s not her song even to this day, but it is.

And it’s fitting as well. With the exception of a few lines here and there, it really can be the story of a mom looking into her childs eyes for the first time. Take a listen and see what I mean. Listen to my daughter’s very first song.

cover

I first heard the term “Helicopter Parent” a few months back, I was like, what the hell is that?

So I looked it up. And found out it was pretty much me.

It was a sucky realization – I’m a term – like Tiger Mom or Cougar. Those little pop culture labels that we love to assign to groups of people. So I hover…there is little to nothing I can do about it. Cause once those little girls were plucked from my womb, the world became a much different place.

I was the youngest of four, so by the time I got to the age where I could start doing stuff on my own, I could leave the house and not return for hours. I think as long as my mom knew the general vicinity I was headed to, she was cool and with a wave of her hand and a “be home by 5” I was out in the world on my own.

Lots of times I took my bike and rode miles and miles into neighboring towns, many times on very busy and dangerous roads. Other times I just went up town to the library, or the park, grabbing a slice or an order of fries for lunch.

But our free-rangeness went beyond what we did on our own. When we were out with my dad we would indulge in many activities that could lead to possible injury. Tree climing, walking along the Palisades cliffs, wandering through the streets of New York City on a Friday night, and swimming in an ocean that was way too rough for kids our age.

When we were on Martha’s Vineyard he used to let us ride in this big metal box that we kept on the top of car for the luggage. One bump on a dirt road and one or more of us could’ve popped right out of that thing. I also remember this red convertible we had – it’s a wonder none of us died with the stunt Dad used to let us pull in that thing.

whoops whoops

He’d let us ride sitting on the back hood with our feet on the back seat while we rode down what we called the “whoops whoops hill” – a long, steep hill that would drop down, and level off, and drop down, and level off. We’d wave our arms and scream, and Dad would be going pretty fast – sometimes you almost felt like you caught air.

And here I sit at 50 years old – I somehow managed to survive with no seat belts, no bike helmets, no antibacterial gel.

So why in the world am I such a nervous Nelly lunatic with my girls? Well, here’s a few reasons.

1. I have super shitty health insurance. Therefore, if something happens to my girls from a broken arm to a knocked out tooth I am screwed. So when my youngest asks if she can try riding daddy’s bike, I tell her she should just walk because she’s less likely to hurt herself.

2. I want to avoid the blame game. I would NEVER hear the end of it from hubby if anything happened to my girls because I let them do something that lead to them getting hurt.

3. There are monsters out there. Regardless of whether you believe that there are more pedophiles/murderers/psychopaths out there now, or if it just seems that way because the world is so über connected, the fact is, they are out there. When my youngest walks to the park with the next door neighbor or goes on a scooter ride, I WORRY ABOUT HER. A lot. I let her go, because I know I have to. And still, I worry.

Here’s the simple fact: I know if my girls are home with me, they are a lot less likely to be aducted, or lured away, or hit by a car, or bit by a snake, or beat up by roaming street thugs.

By the way, If I sound bad, you should see my husband. I’m Lenient Lucy compared to him.

So I don’t know how it happened…how I made that transition from a child who could ride her bike halfway across the state as long as I was home in time for dinner to the mom who makes her kids check in every hour. I guess the answer is, I’m just trying to keep my kids safe – Is that so wrong?

Hell, I only have a few more years of this anyway. With kids 19 & 13 how many more years of hovering to I have? But until then, I’ll just take my cue from Arnold….and get to the chopper.

Baby Ads

Yesterday I began a post that talked about my first born and her short stint as a baby model. In the process I unearthed something that I had been searching for, off more than on, for the past 18 years. And it convinced me that there is a certain magic in this world – that unquestionably there has to be times when the stars line up and every thing just falls right into place.


In the spring of 1996 I remember watching an episode the Today Show where they did a segment on modeling agencies that dealt with average Joes. You know, the folks who get cast as grandmothers, neighbors and cab drivers in commercials and print ads. At the end of the segment, they mentioned that they were looking for babies.

I looked at my sleeping 7 month old and, let’s just say the proverbial light bulb went off over my head. I called the agency right away and was told to send in a photo and our basic information. Photos? I had a ton. You always have a ton of your first born child. I selected what I thought was a particularly fetching snapshot and sent it in.

A few weeks later I got a call from the agency asking if we could bring her in. My husband was very skeptical and insisted on coming with me. While I knew there were scammers our there, I didn’t think the Today Show would endorse a fly-by-night outfit, but I was prepared for the possibility of a “portfolio photo shoot” sales pitch (and the big “I told you so” lecture from hubby).

We arrived for our appointment, and as we were being lead through the office, a woman walked by, pointed to my daughter and said, “I want her at the Playtex shoot this afternoon.”

There was no talk of portfolio shots, no need to pay a fee, nothing monetarily upfront from us at all, and that afternoon we took our baby daughter on her very first job.

And like that I had entered the world of baby modeling.

At this point I had a full time job which afforded me very little flex time. But as a mother of a baby model you had to be ready at a moment’s notice to pack a diaper bag, head into New York, and find the shoot location – which was inveriably somewhere in Soho. Remember, no GPS or Google Maps back in ’96 – I had to leave in plenty of time to find what was usually some obscure street downtown, and then find parking close enought to where I wasn’t pushing a stroller across half of Manhattan.

Plus you had to have a happy baby when you showed up. This was the main reason why I decided to give modeling a try. My little girl almost never fussed and interacted well with strangers, which is key to the business. I learned that early on.

Do you know how most photo shoots went? You handed your baby to a total stranger who took her in another room. When they were done with her, they handed her back and paid you. If the kid is a superstar with mom, but a dud with strangers, you’re out of business. And as a mom? It was a real leap of faith, let me tell you.

My girl got a handful of jobs. Once she was filmed for a Trane Heating print ad. She got paid for the shoot but didn’t land the actual print ad. She was also photographed for the box of a baby blanket by Playskool – that shoot took the longest, and while she got paid, we never knew if she made the box because I could never find it in the stores.

But I know she appeared in print one time. She had been photographed by Toys R Us, and months later while shopping for a present for my friends daughter, picked up the latest circular in the store. Flipping through the pages, I saw her…my girl in a red sweat suit smiling on a Winnie the Pooh blanket.

Sam Toys R Us

I was eccstatic. I grabbed a giant stack of copies and began to show her photo to anyone who would look – right there in the lobby of Toys R Us. I ran to my sisters house to show her. I ran to the party and handed out copies of the circular to all my friends. I was probably super obnoxious, but dammit, I was a true-blue bursting with pride mommy.

Her next job was for Huggies – the big time. She nailed the go-see. They took two babies in at a time and waved a toy at them – my girl giggled and giggled while the other baby just cried. The day of the shoot she was super fussy – I think she was cutting a tooth – and even my level tempered little angel wasn’t in the mood to say cheese. I hoped that a nap on the way into the city would soothe her.

I was wrong. They took her in with a few other kids and she was handed back to me 90 seconds later. “Sorry, she’s not in the right mood today,” and home we went.

Shortly after that I pissed the agency off. I had agreed to take her to a go-see, but my boss was giving me crap for missing so much work. When I called them to cancel, they lectured me on the importance of keeping these appointments, so I told them I’d still go. I broke down and cried to my bosses who relented and gave in.

It was the last time the agency ever called. I think I got put on a list of unreliable moms or something. It was a bummer, but to be honest, dragging a baby into the city twice a month was difficult for a mom with a full time job. I guess the world of baby modeling is better suited for moms who can stay at home, or work and can afford a nanny.

She did model once more a few years later. I worked for a really rinky-dink ad agency and my boss landed a local mattress company’s ad campaign. They wanted a mother and daughter for the ad shoot, and I jumped right in and offered up my child, who would work for free. Although my daughter was beyond cute, the poster, which we have framed and hanging in our bedroom, blows – what designer with any self-respect uses Mistral anyway?

Sam Mattress

That was her last official modeling gig.

As the years past, I’ve often wondered about the shoot for the blanket box, and if she ever wound up on the package. A cousin of mine called me about a year after the shoot saying she thought she saw her on a box, but when we went to look we couldn’t find any toy that had a baby who even resembled our girl.

Every couple of years I would Google “Playskool Blankie Blankie,” because that’s the name that was on the modeling work sheet for the product shoot that day, but came up empty time after time.

When the idea came into my head yesterday to write about her short stint as a baby model, I got halfway through the blog post and decided to look again. When my usual search query came up empty, I simply typed in “1996 Playskool blankets” and a few scrolls down, I came across this image.

789028230_o

A “vintage” baby banket for sale on Ebay. I wasn’t 100% sure, because I couldn’t really zoom in, but thought that baby laying on the blanket is a dead ringer for my daughter, rosy Slovak cheeks and all. I took a screen shot of the image and emailed it to hubby – I was fully expecting him to scoff at it immediately, but he was also intrigued.

I contacted the seller who was nice enough to send me close up shots of both babies on the box. While the smaller inset photo is no way my child, the one on on the blanket?

Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 12.24.11 PMIt’s her. After 18 years of wondering, I got my answer. She made the box.

I bought the item (duh!) and can’t wait until it gets here later this week. At first hubby wasn’t 100% convinced until I dug out baby photos of her in similar positions.

That, coupled with the fact that I remember that blanket from the shoot was enough to sway him. Plus, come on – a mother knows

I am absolutely astounded that I found this box. There was less than a day left on the Ebay auction, and if I hadn’t gotten the idea yesterday to blog about my foray into baby modeling, I never would have Googled this baby blanket in time to be able to purchase the item.

Isn’t it funny how the world can work like that sometimes? It’s almost inconceivalbe to think of all the things that had to happen at a very specific time for me to end up finding this item that I have been looking for for almost 2 decades.

Hmmmm – I think I’m playing the lottery tonight.

spellingbee_library

As a parent, you are forced to attend a multitude of school events where you whittle the away the hours watching band recitals, talent shows, and peering at student art all the while secretly wishing you were at home with the remote in hand.

Okay, so Mother of the Year I am not.

When my oldest daughter was in 6th grade, she came home to tell me she’d won a spot in her school’s first ever spelling bee. Spelling Bee? Now here was something I could take an interest in. I’ve always been a halfway decent speller, and I took pride in the fact that my girl was good enough to have qualified for the finals.

We practiced during the weeks leading up to the Bee, and when that Friday night arrived, we drove to the school hoping for the best. Hubby couldn’t make it, because it was hockey season and that night he had to drive the Zamboni for the Richmond Renegades. Hubby missed a lot of these school performances…

There were about 10 kids participating – I think they were the top 2 from the different 6th grade classes. A few kids got out right away. My girl was sailing through the words she was getting, which were all pretty easy. I can remember each time it was her turn sitting there holding my breath hoping that she would not get something like “xylophone” or “chrysanthemum.”

At one point, she got the word “marmalade” and I was a bit worried. She wasn’t a jelly fan. She spelled out M-A-R-M-A-L-A-D-E, which was promptly followed by the tinkle of a bell. I remember thinking, “hmmmm. Last time I looked that was how you spelled marmalade.”

Should I say something? Was I really going to have to be one of THOSE parents? The kind who interupts an entire spelling bee? Luckily one of the other judges caught the error, and I silently sent up a “thank you” to the spelling bee Gods.

The bee went on for a good amount of time, partially because they didn’t know what they were doing. Kids were allowed to start over again if they felt they messed up, which you can’t do in the real Scripps bee. One annoying girl would repeatedly ask all the typical time-buying questions, like “can I have the word’s origin?” and “can you use it in a sentence?”

I was secretly happy when she finally got the bell.

The bee got down to two kids, my girl and a boy who had to wear hearing aids. At this point, while I wanted my girl to win, I would’ve been happy with either kid taking the prize. They went back and forth, back and forth for quite a while. I have to say, as a parent, it was tough to watch. Each word was like a bullet your kid had to dodge.

In the end, my girl won.

We don’t remember the word she won with – isn’t that stupid? But I’m pretty sure the boy messed up on the word “obstetrician” because it took him almost 10 minutes to try and spell it.

She won a medal, which she still has hanging in her room. My girl really floored me that night. I remember calling hubby as soon as we got in the car. I was so sorry he had missed it. His little girl had come out on top, and he wasn’t there to see it.

She went on to compete against the winners from other grades, where she lost on the word “stewardess.” Not only is that a sexist word, but we don’t fly, so she was pretty much clueless as to what a stewardess was.

She made the finals in the 8th grade spelling bee as well. She got out on the word “rhinoceros” which I didn’t know how to spell either. Oh well – sometimes you get the bummer word.

While we were sad that she couldn’t win again, nobody can ever take away that 6th grade win of hers, where she stood on stage and faced a dictionary full of words, and came out on top.

Letting Go

The neighborhood we live in is not really conducive to a free-wheelin’ get out and play lifestyle for my kids. Our road is a busy one, so playing in the street is out of the question, and even taking your bike out causes me to sprout a few hundred grey hairs.

Oh yeah, you need to know that I am one nervous Nellie of a mom. And dad? He’s neurotic Nathan. We make a great team.

But, I got tired of seeing my youngest daughter just sit around the house on sunny afternoons. We are not lucky enough to have friends who live around the corner – just a younger boy who lives next door. However we do have a community park about six blocks away. Six blocks away…it might as well be six miles away. I thought back to my own childhood where at my daughter’s age I spent endless hours on my bike traveling everywhere, my parents absolutely clueless as to  my whereabouts. Ugh. Something had to change.

So, I suggested she take  her scooter and ride over to the park one day – maybe kids from school were there and she could have a little fun. At first she was like, “I don’t know,” and dad was like, “are you crazy?” But after a little cajoling, she agreed to go with the boy next door. I made her take her watch and promise to be home by (x) o’clock. As she glided off down the road, I took a deep breath and said to myself, “it’ll be okay.”

And it was. She had fun – there were tons of kids there from school and now trips to the park are a commonplace thing. She abides to her “home by” time and she’s getting fresh air and exercise. Win-win. And I’ve loosened the strings just a tad…win-win-win.

I wanted to do one better for my girl – I still felt bad that she has no friends that live nearby, so I suggested she have a movie night with the girls. She had wanted a sleepover, but the thought of 5 giggling girls in my small house for hours on end left me with little to no enthusiasm, so I suggested a long afternoon/early evening party.

She invited 5 girls, and 4 were able to come. There was the usual shy awkwardness when they first arrived…”this is my room, these are my cats, what should we do…”

But before long, they were playing music, eating snacks and dishing dirt on the kids at school. And while I thought my daughter would be awkward, she was actually the life of the party. She had these girls laughing and they were all having a really good time. And I let them do their thing. I let them order their own pizza. I let them make their own cupcakes. I retreated to the back bedroom and caught up on episodes of “Game of Thrones,” checking up on them from time to time.

And for the most part they were good – I had to step in once, though. They were all in my daughter’s room with the door closed and I heard one girl say, “let’s all take off our shirts!” Nope, not in my house ladies. My daughter, of course, was mortified that I made them all come out into the living room.

But not her friends. They loved me. I think it was because I didn’t hang over them and try to micromanage the night, And for the most part I liked the girls too. But one girl…one girl could be trouble. She was loud and cursed and talked a little too much about boys. I wasn’t sure if I was happy about Sasha being friends with her, and then I thought back to Patty.

Patty was a friend of mine in middle school. She was a tomboy to say the least – she wore only t-shirts and jeans, used foul language and smoked. Needless to say, my mother did not like her. She lived with her mom, who was divorced, in a small apartment in town. She was the only kid I knew who lived in an apartment, and one of only a few who had divorced parents.

I don’t know why we were friends – we were polar opposites. Yeah, I did some bad things with Patty, but it was petty shit – walking up to Fort Lee when I was supposed to stay in town. But once we took a bus into the city…the Bronx…to meet some dudes she and her friend Cathy knew. I spent the afternoon fending off a guy named Chucho in Fort Tryon Park while Patty and Cathy made out with their dudes du jour. I think my mom would’ve flipped her wig if she knew that.

But I didn’t let Patty influence me. I remember us hanging out at the rec center and her taking a small brown bottle out of her pocket. She opened it up, put it to her nose and inhaled. I had no clue what it was – I think she said it was speed. She coaxed me to try it, but I said “no way,” and asked her why she was bothering with that shit. Between that and the Bronx incident, we didn’t remain close friends throughout high school.

In the end, my mom had little to worry about because she raised me right. And I remembered this as I spied the girl with the foul mouth who had suggested going shirtless. I hope I raised my girl to do the same. But I worry – I think she could be a follower…

After the party I sat her down, told her about Patty and how I thought her one friend could be what moms would call “a bad influence.” She readily agreed with me – at least she knows to watch out for her. And me? Now I’ve got a Patty to deal with.

Just like my mom.

SamThis post will be short and sweet, because I’m busy. I have to make macaroni and cheese, bake cupcakes, clean the house and make a cucumber, onion & tomato salad. I also have to pick up my youngest from school, and then come home to start the party.

My oldest daughter turned 18 today. I feel the need to commemorate it with a long, loving post, but I just don’t have the time. Because I’m busy celebrating with  her real time, and getting everything ready for her party.

Just a group of her once high-school friends, now all getting ready to embark on part B of their academic lives, or maybe just heading off to work 9-5 like the rest of the world. They’ll eat, play ping pong, and goof around my small little house. They will blow out candles on a cake that the lady at Food Lion messed up by writing Happy 17th – a thing that we will make into a good joke rather than sulking over it.

And I will enjoy it thoroughly, because in just a few days she’ll be gone.

Oh, I’ll be blogging about my girl a lot in the next few weeks. You can be sure of that.

But for now, happy 18th birthday my bright, beautiful baby girl. You have rarely caused me disappointment, and have never gotten too cool to hang out with your mom or play with your little sister.

The world is a better place with you in it.

Tracy

Today, while searching through old photos for a future blog post, I came across too many photos of me that were just plain ugly. I have come to the conclusion that I was one ugly little girl. This is not to say that I remained ugly…I had a few years where I could be considered a hottie. But from birth to at least 3rd grade I was not a handsome child.

tracy 10Let’s start with the wee bitty Tracy. A face only a mother could love. I was chubby, had a wide, flat nose and squinty little eyes. I always thought there were so few photos of me as a baby because by kid #4 my folks had become weary of breaking out the camera. Perhaps I was actually breaking the lens…

tracy 4I look like James Gandolfini here.

tracy 9Notice how I am strapped into the baby buggy. Don’t worry mom, nobody in their right mind would try to snatch me.

tracy 5Cute hat, cute coat. That’s where the cuteness commences.

tracy 7Which one’s the dog? Seriously, I’m torn between what’s worse; the hair, the missing teeth or that sorry excuse for a bathing suit.  What is it, a young boy’s suit from the 1920s?

tracy 8Ok, I actually like this photo of me despite the über gaudy silver and pink coat. I believe this is atop the Empire State Building with a glistening late 1960s New York City in the background.

I’m not quite sure what happened to my pre-pubescent gene pool…my brothers and sisters were cute kids. My kids were cute kids – hell, they were beautiful. But I looked…well…manly. My butch-esque hair and my hand-me-down clothes from decades earlier didn’t support my cause much either.

Nice shirt, Marsha

Nice shirt, Marsha

I don’t think I began to “blossom” until around 7th grade, and even then I was what I would consider an “acquired taste.” The dudes were never knocking down my door when I was in high school, but then again, they were mostly losers who went nowhere anyway. Regardless, the guys I liked rarely liked me and I remained boyfriend-less until I was a junior.

But that, my friends is another blog post entirely.

I wanted to treat my two girls to a day of fun yesterday. They had worked hard during the recently ended year of school and deserved a day out of Dodge . So, we piled in the Slovie-mobile and went to King’s Dominion, one of Virginia’s two big name, massive theme parks.  We’ve been a ton of times in the 12.5 years we’ve lived in VA, and have seen many rides come and go. But one of my favorites is Rebel Yell, a classic out and back racer wooden coaster.

I always ride Rebel Yell. Even when my fanny has been a tad too plump to fit in the partitioned seat, I’ve gone on with one ass cheek painfully resting on the divider. It may have been the first big roller coaster my oldest girl ever rode. Now she is fearless. She will ride everything.

I took my first-born on her first looping coaster here at King’s Dominion, of that I am sure. It was the Anaconda which loops, corkscrews and bashes your head so senseless that you can’t quite recall if you actually enjoyed your ride. I was scared shitless to go on it, but she was ready, willing and able to take the leap to steel coasters and I didn’t want to dissuade her. Plus everyone else in our group had a case of the chicken shits. Mommy to the rescue once again.

Throw me for a loop

I hate looping coasters. I went on Lighting Loops at Great Adventure back in the 80’s and hated it. Then I was forced to ride Montu at Busch Gardens Tampa in the 90’s with a gaggle of in-laws. I kept my eyes closed the whole time.

But a wooden coaster? I’m almost always game. When my younger daughter reached coaster-riding age, I got her on the Scooby Doo Coaster at King’s Dominion and she loved it. So naturally when she finally reached the required height to ride the big coasters last summer, we took her on Rebel Yell.

She was scared, but willing to give it a try. When we got up to the loading area, my oldest asked if she could ride with her sister on her inaugural voyage. And this is the very point where my mommy senses went flying south for the winter. I said “yes.”

I sat behind them and watched as we flew out and back, up and down. When we got back to the station, I asked her how she liked it, and with a grave face she headed for the exit.

My stomach sank. Ruh Roh, Rorge.

When I asked her what was wrong, she said she was afraid the entire ride that she was going to fly out of her seat. See, if I had been riding with her, I would have snapped on the mommy seat belt – my arm across her body – and held her firmly in place while we laughed and enjoyed the ride. Instead, she rode with sister who held on for her own dear life and left my wee one to fend for herself.

There was no getting her on a coaster the rest of the day. Throughout summer, winter and fall, she was adamant that her big coaster days were over. Boy did I blow it. I had a vision of her at 42 riding the Scooby Coaster and knew that this season I had to get her back on the horse.

So when I suggested the trip to KD, I told my youngest to gird her loins for a trip on Rebel Yell. Panic flooded her face and I knew I had my work cut out for me.

The day was great. It had rained heavily the night before and the day was overcast and a bit cooler than it had been. It being Wednesday and early in the season, the park was pretty empty. It was an amusement park enthusiasts dream – cloudy skies and no lines. While my oldest and her friend went to ride the attractions I’d need 7 figures to even consider, kidlet #2 and I hit our favorites.

We were really having fun. I LOVE when I get one on one time with either of  my girls, and as the day progressed, I kept suggesting Rebel Yell. She would say no, but then add a maybe. Ah ha! A chink in the armor. I had some wiggle room.

By 3 pm, I knew I had to make my move. The park was closing at 6 (early season hours) and I still hadn’t squeezed my ample ass into a decent coaster. I told her it was time for us to ride, but that she didn’t have to come. I’d be willing to let her sit on a bench while sister and I rode – she could hold our keys and cell phones. As we neared the entrance, I wondered if she would actually come.

She entered the walkway with us, and the during long and winding walk to the loading platform remained silent. It was eerily like a death march. When we got to the loading slots, I told her she could still bail – she could wait on the exit platform for us, but I said, “you really should come. It’s so much fun and I promise I’ll hold you down with all my might.”

She got in. The entire ride up the hill she chanted “scoobydoocoaster, scoobydoocoaster” and then we reached the top. I tightened the mommy seat belt and we plunged down the first hill. The worst was over and we were racing up and down the hills, noisily rumbling along.

And she was laughing! She was screaming “yeah!” and having a fucking blast. I did not release my mom grip, and feeling the safety of my embrace she actually put her hands up. Only for a second, but she was a true coaster enthusiast for a second or two.

Party on Wayne. Party on Garth

After the ride was over and she declared total coaster awesomeness, she needed a fix and fast. So we headed over the Hurler. While this is a great coaster, the seat partitions are even more narrow than on Rebel Yell. As I tried to wedge myself in the seat I knew I was in trouble.

The fit was not a good one, but I couldn’t let my new coaster buddy down. I sat very much askew in the seat as the attendant jammed the safety bar deep into the flesh of my chubbylicous belly. I employed the mommy belt and off we went.

This coaster is notoriously rough, and I held onto her through every twist, turn, rise and rumble – and I felt every fucking shake and shimmy. By the time the train pulled back into the station I was physically exhausted.

My arm was shaking, my ass was throbbing, and I was almost out of breath. I realized that between hollers meant to persuade my daughter that this was fun, I was holding my breath the entire ride. The walk back to my oldest and her buddy was a slow one, but to hear my youngest rave about the ride she has just taken was worth every ache and throb.

It won’t be long before she’ll be looking towards the larger rides. The steel ones. The ones that invert, and twist and corkscrew and loop. And then it will be time to push my coaster girl out of the nest, cause mommy don’t go there.

Big sister will have to take her under her steel coaster wing and teach her how to fly.